Congratulations — yet again — to the England women’s bridge team, who last week won gold at the European championships in Budapest. They have now won medals at the last six World and European women’s teams events which, according to the English Bridge Union, might currently make them the most successful international team in British sport.
I was with them in Budapest the night before the tournament began: the newly bemedalled Sally Brock and I had travelled there four days earlier to play in the European Women’s Pairs. I should have done better with Sally, but we finished a respectable ninth — and I like to think I helped warm her up for Nicola Smith, her usual, brilliant partner!
Here’s how Sally tackled 3NT to score more tricks than most of the field:
West led the ♥A followed by a low heart to East’s ♥J and Sally’s ♥Q (a club thrown from dummy). She had ten tricks. It seemed likely that West held the ♦K and would come under pressure on the run of the spades. Sally cashed the ♠A, crossed to the ♠K, and ran the rest of her spades, watching West’s discards carefully. On the final spade, Sally was down to ♥9, ♦AQ, ♣AK4, and made the important discard of a club rather than the ♥9. Poor West: she was down to ♥K102, ♦K5, ♣J. She couldn’t discard her ♣J, as then declarer could run the ♣10 for an 11th trick. Baring the ♦K was possible but Sally had a good count of the hand and wouldn’t have fallen for that. So West discarded a heart. When Sally crossed to hand and cashed the ♣AK, West was pincered. She came down to ♥K, ♦K5 and was, of course, thrown in with Sally’s ♥9 to play a diamond.